With hundreds of trucks criss-crossing Interstate 94 every day, it's hard to believe there's a shortage of truck drivers. However, industry experts say the nation is experiencing a shortage of about 20,000 truck drivers each year, with that number is expected to grow.
"The shortage we're experiencing today is of qualified truck drivers," says Minnesota Trucking Association president John Hausladen. "When people buy more things that means the economy's humming and those goods have to be moved. Truck drivers have to be in the trucks to move those goods. So we're seeing an increased demand among truck drivers."
Hausladen describes a "qualified truck driver" as a driver with a good safety record and an up-to-date physical.
While trucking allows a person to own his or her own business, live almost anywhere and make about $40,000 a year, Hausladen says the industry stills struggles to recruit or keep good, reliable truckers.
"Truck drivers are just getting older, so more people are exiting the industry," says Hausladen. "We have more regulations that make it a less desirable position to be in."
He also says high start-up costs might drive some people away. Training to become a commercial truck driver could cost anywhere from $4,000 to $6,000. Plus, time in school means time out of a paycheck.
Theria Bridges became a truck driver a little more than a year ago. He says, so far, trucking hasn't been what he thought it would be. "I thought it was good money and, you know, you get to travel and see different things, but it kind of went the other direction," says Bridges. "It was hard for me getting home to my family. The pay wasn't that great."
American Trucking Associations has launched a media campaign to attract and retain truck drivers. Trucking companies understand the changing needs of truckers, like Bridges, and have offered to tailor schedules so drivers don't have to be away from home as long.
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